A Sad Farewell to My Friend, Deborah Yesner
In January of 2004 I sent an email to Robert Greenwald, then an independent film producer, now the head of Brave New Films. That email changed my life; it resulted in me becoming one of eight researchers on Robert’s film, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism.
Among us we watched thousands of hours of Fox “News.” During the summer and fall of 2004 we watched in horror as Fox lead the charge in the Swift Boating of John Kerry and Kerry’s refusal (or inability, or whatever it was) to fight back. After the election, we were exhausted.
It was hard to get back on the horse but we all essentially committed to keep going; to keep exposing Fox for what is was — anything but “fair and balanced.” We hoped Democrats — particularly Democrats who had a say in things — were noticing what an amazing and well-oiled propaganda machine Fox was. Still don’t know if they were or are.
Deborah Yesner was one of us; one of the original eight. She taught special needs kids in her real life. She worked all day — five days a week — at that thankless job. Exhausted, frustrated, underpaid, she’d come home and — how she found the energy I don’t know other than to say that it was a testament to how much she believed in what she was doing — she’d monitor Bill O’Reilly; The Factor. (Can you imagine doing that after a hard day’s work?) She’d spend an hour watching the show and then an hour or three posting about it — for four years — for no pay mind you, other than the pittance in donations we’d split among us every quarter. (ChrisBG, another member of our group, figured it out at one point: we were bringing in roughly 6¢ and hour for the hours we worked.)
Then, in October of 2008, after suffering from very bad headaches for several days, Deborah — Deb as we called her — suffered a ruptured aneurysm in her brain. For the past year+ her husband and daughter have cared for her as she suffered infection after infection; was moved in and out of the hospital, back home and then to a nursing home and back to the hospital. On and on. The hospital took care of her physical needs, but the nursing home that her husband’s insurance would pay for was unequipped to care for her medical needs as well as provide the physical therapy required to give her a fighting chance to recover to the fullest extent. A facility like that was a step or ten above what his insurance would pay for and he couldn’t afford the out-of-pocket expense. (One can only imagine — $10,000 per week?)
On Tuesday I learned that Deb had contracted a very serious infection. The doctors said there was nothing more they could do. Her husband and daughter decided to put her on a morphine drip and make her as comfortable as possible. Today her devastated and heartbroken family had the strength to inform us that Deb died later that day.
Deborah Yesner was a fierce believer in freedom of the press and in the freedom of speech. But she did not think it was right that a “news” network that claimed it was “fair and balanced,” but in reality was the primary propaganda outlet for the Republican party, should be allowed to use that slogan.
Deb was a jewel. She loved her husband and daughter with all her heart and soul. She was a wonderful person and a cherished friend. Her death is an indescribable loss to me and to the world.
Good-bye Deb. Love you (but I can’t believe I’m writing these words).
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